How Can a North Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney Help Me and My Family?
As human beings, we all want to live our lives on our own terms. We want self-determination – a choice in how things turn out. When you lose a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, grief mixes with anger and frustration. It wasn’t their time yet, and it shouldn’t have happened. Now, at the same time you’re mourning, you have to find a way to pay the bills, manage the expenses, and figure out how to live without someone who was taken from you. It’s not fair.
North Carolina law enables the family of a person who dies as a result of others’ negligence to file a wrongful death claim. It’s a way to seek financial justice as well as emotional closure. An experienced wrongful death attorney will take it one step further and help you organize your loved-one’s estate, and ensure that your family is prepared for a future without them.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In essence, it is the law’s attempt to quantify the impact of the loss of your loved one on your family, and to afford you the opportunity to recover financially from that loss. The statute of limitations on a wrongful death claim in North Carolina is two years from the date of a person’s passing, but may be different if the injury that eventually caused their death occurred more than two years before their passing.
The claim must be made by the “personal representative” of the person who passed. Often, that is the spouse or a close family member. In legal terms, this is an Administrator of the person’s estate if he or she passed without a Will, or an Executor or Executrix if they had a Will. In either case, this representative is legally acting on behalf of the person who passed.
The law might seem confusing, especially when you have so much on your mind. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
What Does a Wrongful Death Attorney Do?
There are several ways in which we can help your family through this very difficult time.
- Investigate the incident that led to your loved one’s passing, gather information, and identify the ways your family and livelihood have been impacted.
- If necessary, assist you with preparing the estate of your loved one.
- Prepare and file the wrongful death claim on your behalf.
- Negotiate with insurance companies and all other parties on your behalf.
- If necessary, plead your case in court.
Essentially, we take up the fight on your behalf and give you the time and space to grieve. Rather than being knee deep in legal questions and concerns, dealing with insurers, or otherwise reliving a painful memory through its aftermath. Hopefully, closure for you and your family can begin when you hire an attorney to take the burden for you.
What Kinds of Compensation Can My Family Get Through a Wrongful Death Claim?
According to North Carolina law, a wrongful death claim can attempt to recover compensation for:
- Expenses for care, treatment and hospitalization incident to the injury resulting in death
- Compensation for pain and suffering of the person who passed
- The reasonable funeral expenses of the person who passed
- The present monetary value of the person who passed to the those entitled to receive the damages recovered, including but not limited to compensation for the loss of the reasonably expected:
- Net income of the person who passed
- Services, protection, care and assistance of the person who passed, whether voluntary or obligatory, to the persons entitled to the damages recovered
- Society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice of the person who passed to the persons entitled to the damages recovered
- Such punitive damages as the person who passed could have recovered had he or she survived, and punitive damages for wrongfully causing his or her death through malice or willful or wanton conduct
- Nominal damages when the jury chooses to award them
No one can bring back your loved one, but what we can do is quantify the impact of the loss on you and your family to help you try to recover financially from that loss.
There are certain statutory limits to specific parts of the possible recovery, and there is a specific order in which compensation is disbursed. There are a number of factors that influence these limits and order, so it’s best to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney to help you understand exactly how proceeds from a settlement or judgment on behalf of your loved one will be distributed.
Special Cases of Wrongful Death
Losing a family member is a heartbreaking situation, and can be truly devastating when that person was a breadwinner for the family. The law seems to be geared toward those cases. However, this focus on the working adult results in a clear decline in compensation value when the victims of wrongful death are children or the elderly. While no less tragic, the loss of a child or elderly family member is even more difficult for the law to value and, as a result, can be more difficult to obtain compensation for.
In these cases, it is absolutely recommended to consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
How Do Wrongful Deaths Happen?
Whenever someone has a duty of care and ignores it, wrongful death can occur. Some common causes of wrongful death are:
- Vehicle accidents, including cars, motorcycles, boats, and commercial trucks
- Drunk driving crashes
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products or drugs
- Workplace incidents
Legally speaking, negligence as defined in North Carolina occurs when:
- The defendant owed a duty to commit an act, or to refrain from committing an act.
- The defendant breached their duty to act/not act.
- This breach of duty caused injury to the plaintiff.
- The defendant's actions (or inactions) were the proximate cause of the injury – in other words, the defendant should have known that this action could have caused injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages (like lost wages, hospital bills, etc.).
Remember, in a wrongful death case, you are actually filing a claim on behalf of your deceased loved one. It’s important to understand that as you approach the case. It is not technically about what you have endured or lost. It is about what they endured and lost.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney to Help You
We know how difficult it is to cope with the tragic loss of someone you love – we’ve helped many clients in your situation. Our goal at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is to ease the burden on you while ensuring you have every opportunity to seek compensation on behalf of your lost loved one. Call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.